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Topic: Tutorial: trad. Mongolian wet-felting technique mixed with modern  (Read 34627 times)
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Jane Doe
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« on: October 03, 2005 09:55:39 AM »

Lay out your fiber by pulling tufts from your wool tops and laying the fiber next to each other. When laying the second row, ensure that the fiber overlaps the first row by around a half



Continue to lay at least 3 layers on top of each other to give the felt strength.
Lay each layer at 90degrees to the layer beneath it. If you look closely at the below pic, you can see the different directions of each layer peeking through at the edges.
If your felt is purely decorative, you could get away with laying only two layers. If you're making boots etc, you will want to lay more than three.
Remember, if you use different colours for each layer, they will show through and blend in the final layer (this can be seen in later pics)
Put your design on top



Lay your work onto whatever fabric you are using to felt onto.
Traditionally, the Mongolians felted their felt on the old felt they were replacing. My favorite method is to use a matchstick blind. Essentially it's the same as a really big sushi mat which also can be used for very little items. This matchstick blind was bought at a hardware store for $20.
Other materials you could use include terry-toweling or bubble wrap (although less durable). Here my group wanted to practice the method of rugmaking while still making our own individual squares to take home so we put our squares together.
Keep an eye on the square with the 3 yellow, green, and red star bursts on it.



Using hot water and soap (or any other agent to disturb the ph level eg vinegar or acid), wet the wool.
To distribute the water + soap mixture, we used a sports bottle (as seen in a later pic)
Carefully roll the wool up into the matchstick blind (or whatever else you might be using)



Tie the roll together with some spare fabric strips, and roll the package back and forth
At the beginning, don't do this for too long. The wool is still fairly loose and may begin to felt into the matchstick blind.



Unroll the package and see how your felt is beginning to develop.
Your felt should actally look a little skewed at this point, as it's only been felted in one direction.
Each time you view the felt, it should be turned 90degrees, or flipped upside down so that the whole felt is made evenly.
Re-wet the felt with hot water + soap and roll it back up again.

If the wool is laying flat and is starting to stick well together, you can be a little more vigorous with it.



As before, tie the package together with the fabric strips.
If you choose to roll using the team method as pictured below, or you're felting on the ground, wrap the package in calico, or another fabric to protect the felt from getting dirty.
Tie using more fabric strips.
In the method pictured, the leader holds a loop of rope and slowly pulls the top of the loop toward them while walking backwards, causing the package to roll toward the leader.
The team (in unison) steps on and off the package as it rolls like such: Left foot on the package, left foot on the ground. Right foot on the package, right foot on the ground. There are a number of felting songs that the Mongolian people sing while felting to keep them in time. Have the leader keep the team in time by either chanting 'left, step. right, step' or by leading a song. We had heaps of fun singing
Remember to check on your felt every 5mins or so and flip + turn the felt as needed



When the felt seems strong, take it off the matchstick blind to squish + saturate the felt.
You can use a large bucket as pictured here or if your felt is too big, a bathtub or shower base works well too. If the felt is small, this can be done with your hands, kneading the felt as if you're making bread.



The next part is to shock the fibres. This is done by slamming the felt into a hard object. Depending on it's size you can throw the felt as hard as you can onto the ground, pick it up and repeat, or hold one edge and whack the felt onto a tree, or jump hard onto the flat felt, or as we're doing here pair up and whack the felt onto the ground.
The felt should shrink significantly in this stage and become much more hard and durable.
I'm always surprised that wet felting can make such delicate items despite it's brutal treatment when being made!



This last step is to smooth the felt out and remove the last excess of water.
Lay the felt out and starting at one edge, roll the felt onto a pole. Broom handles work well.
Just as before, rotate + flip the felt periodically to ensure that it's even



.....And voila! Felt!
Look at the square with the 3 yellow, green, and red star bursts on it. Because the middle layer was red, the fibres have mixed with the white to color the background of the felt pink with a white glow.
The felt should take a day or so to dry properly.
After admiring our felt, we cut the squares into our separate projects


Phew this took a while to type up!
Feel free to ask questions or pick up on my errors.
Hopefully this helps a few people out Smiley
« Last Edit: February 07, 2007 11:51:51 PM by Jane Doe » THIS ROCKS   Logged

Haylie
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« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2005 09:57:43 AM »

awesome!  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2005 04:13:07 AM »

I love that, and GREAT directions. Looks like tons of fun too.
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GraceOblivious
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« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2005 05:00:58 AM »

Oh Jane Doe!!!!!!!  Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful.  Method, photos, words.  Love the team approach.  Everyone looks so happy, and the felt is awesome.  You really inspire me to try wet felting.
Thank you so much!!!!!!
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« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2005 05:46:04 AM »

That looks like so much fun! And the end result is gorgeous as well! I really want to try this.
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« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2005 10:41:33 AM »

wowowow Jane Doe, AMAZING!!!  awesome tutorial, awesome pics and awesome felt! This technique comes in my felting book and it was looking so hard and confusing that I could not imagine to try it, but you make it look so possible and real! (you should so write your own felting book and get it published) it must have been taking forever to do it, but the team looks like having lots of fun so it is good  Cheesy and the resulting felt turned out fantastic, wonderful work on both the tutorial and the felt! thanks for posting it!
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corduroy cat
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2005 06:12:36 AM »

awhhh i want a team of felting friends!!
so it's ok to cut the felt once it's dry? i've always heard not to cut the fibers cause it destroys them, is it different in wet felting?
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xstillxherex72
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2005 03:24:25 PM »

i understand most of it (i think) except for two things (but dont worry, its not cause of your tut, its just because this is only my second time on the felting page Tongue)
1. wool tufts....how do you do this? do you just pull the wool out or something?
2. can i do wet felting alone? or do i need a team?
so, yeh, i hope to get to do this soon! do you know of any good tuts for hats?

much love
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Jane Doe
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« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2005 04:34:41 PM »

awhhh i want a team of felting friends!!
so it's ok to cut the felt once it's dry? i've always heard not to cut the fibers cause it destroys them, is it different in wet felting?

Well I haven't tried it yet, but one of the girls I met here, said that she's held felting parties before. Her favourite was a baby shower she hosted for her best friend. They did pretty much what we did here, except with more unity in design and color, and they used fabric and other bits and pieces felted in.
There were 8 close friends at the baby shower, and she showed each of them how to lay the fibre etc. They each made a square like we did, and they spent the day felting, singing, and drinking champers. Cheesy
When they were finished, the resulting blanket was a gift for the baby!

Usually I'm a lone felter too. I drove down the coast a while to participate in a weekend felting class and that's where the pics are from.
We had a ball!
I am at UNI hoping to be a school teacher and thought pics might come in handy if I ever want to teach this to children

As fas as cutting the felt, it doesn't leave edges that are as nice as felted edges. I don't think I've ever had a reason to cut my fibre or felt except for this piece so I don't really know!
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Jane Doe
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« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2005 05:50:34 PM »

i understand most of it (i think) except for two things (but dont worry, its not cause of your tut, its just because this is only my second time on the felting page Tongue)
Although tutorials are a good place to start, don't forget to also have a look through what other people have posted in the completed projects section. Often by viewing what someone else has made, some of the theory you already know will make a whole lot more sense.
Also, often people give hints on how they made their item.


1. wool tufts....how do you do this? do you just pull the wool out or something?
2. can i do wet felting alone? or do i need a team?
so, yeh, i hope to get to do this soon! do you know of any good tuts for hats?

I know you want to do 3d felt and hats etc, but I think you're aiming a bit high for your first project!
Try making a piece of flat felt first.

First question:
when you buy wool for felting, it looks like the purple and yellow pieces near my hand, except much longer. You can buy the wool on ebay or from a spinning store.
Think of a sheep and how long it's hairs are. Depending on the breed, the hairs are about as long as your fingers. When your supplier makes this the wool into long pieces (Eg the picture) the hairs are overlappedat different points. So to make the wool 'tufts', you simply pull the tip of the wool length and the hairs seporate from the length.



Second question:
Yes you can do wet felting alone. There are many ways to wet felt, this tutorial is just one method.

The really basic formula to wet felting is: wool + disturb the ph + water + friction + heat. 
Be creative. Do what you like and as long as these 5 things are present, you'll get felt.

If you want to follow this tutorial alone, when it comes to rolling the felt you can do it by putting the package on a sturdy surface, and roll it back and forth with your hands like a rolling pin.

Hope this makes sense, I tried to use as little jargon as possible
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